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Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give quarterbacks chance to erase doubts

Coach Raheem Morris says Luke McCown, above, should expect a fourth quarterback to join the competition this offseason.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Coach Raheem Morris says Luke McCown, above, should expect a fourth quarterback to join the competition this offseason.

DANA POINT, Calif. — Coach Raheem Morris faced a steady blitz of questions Wednesday about the Bucs' seemingly mediocre quarterback position.

Luke McCown is 1-6 as a starter and threw one pass last season. Josh Johnson is a second-year pro and basically redshirted as a rookie. And veteran Brian Griese hasn't been under center on opening day since 2005.

Why should anyone believe they can be successful?

"To be honest with you, you shouldn't," Morris said at the NFC coaches' breakfast. "You've got to create the doubt. You've got to create the myth. Those guys have got to step up to the forefront. One of those guys has got to emerge as the guy. When that happens, we won't have this discussion. We'll all know.

"Nobody knew who Matt Cassel was until Matt Cassel got a chance. Who are we kidding? Nobody knew who Tom Brady was until Mo Lewis knocked out Drew Bledsoe on the sideline. Nobody knows these guys. You're never a good quarterback in this league until you get an opportunity, then you either go out there and you either fail or you become Matt Cassel or Drew Brees or Philip Rivers."

Morris said the Bucs plan to add a fourth quarterback through free agency, a trade or the draft. Tampa Bay attempted to trade for Denver QB Jay Cutler a few weeks ago. Morris wouldn't comment on Cutler.

"You're exactly right," Morris said. "Nobody is proven. We're going out there and we're fighting and letting them battle. May the best man put his cleats in and may the best man win. You've got one bone for four dogs. Let them go out and fight this thing out."

The Bucs have the 19th overall selection in the draft, and despite huge needs on defense, Morris said they wouldn't hesitate to use it on a quarterback. Georgia's Matthew Stafford and Southern Cal's Mark Sanchez will be long gone. One possibility is Kansas State's Josh Freeman, whom Morris is familiar with having been the Wildcats' defensive coordinator in 2006.

MUSCLE BEACH: The Bucs promoted Kurt Shultz to strength coach, and Morris says he has his work cut out for him.

"How do we want to look as a team? I was lucky enough to go up and see Urban Meyer practice at Florida, and I'm looking at Percy Harvin and those guys on the field work out and they're all ripped," Morris said. "I'm looking at all those guys running around, Louis Murphy and I'm going, 'Wow, look at this team!' Then I look to my left and there's a bunch of underclassmen and they're all jacked up, all ripped. They looked like the guys from (the movie) 300. And I'm like, 'Man, I want our team to look like that.' I called them up and started stealing stuff from Urban. I am not afraid to be a thief."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give quarterbacks chance to erase doubts 03/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 26, 2009 6:51am]
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